“We feel rather ho-hum about the New Testament’s description of heaven, but we are mesmerized by the accounts of school-age children who claim to have gone there and back” (Kevin DeYoung, Taking God at His Word, p. 46).
Kevin DeYoung succinctly and eloquently describes my feelings regarding the excitement in the Christian community over the recent movie “Heaven Is for Real.” My observations have nothing really to do with Todd and Sonia Burpo, and their son Colton’s claim of visiting heaven. I get more concerned about how Christians seem to get so excited that someone has visited heaven and is back to give eyewitness testimony about what heaven is like.
I imagine we respond this way for one or more of a number of reasons:
All these are at least benign reasons, maybe even good reasons. However, any time we cite extra-biblical testimony as authoritative, we run the risk of undercutting the sufficiency of Scripture. What we know about heaven, we know because the Bible says so. If Colton’s testimony happens to agree with the biblical record, then it is true and a fabulous story BECAUSE it is verifiable by the Bible. Any other parts to his story may be true, and are definitely heartwarming and honorable, but cannot be relied on as absolute truth for the Christian.
What I’m saying is this: The testimony of Scripture is more reliable than eyewitness testimony. If I understand the Scriptures correctly, the Apostle Peter agrees with that statement (2 Peter 1:16-21).
We can, and probably should, watch the movie. But, shouldn’t we get more excited about the Bible’s testimony of heaven then we do a movie?